County Postpones Patrol Car Purchase Following Sheriff's Layoff Announcement

Feb 14, 2019

Updated Feb. 21, 2019

A week later, Commissioner Todd Portune says he's had his questions answered and he will now support requests from the Sheriff and Adult Probation departments for one used and one new police vehicle. The purchases will go forward.

Original Story:

Hamilton County commissioners are holding off on purchasing a used police Ford Explorer from Arlington Heights for $15,000.

Commissioner Todd Portune requested to hold what would normally have been a routine agenda item Thursday citing Sheriff's Jim Neil's news conference last week announcing layoffs.

"I want to know why we can't squeeze another year or two out of the vehicles we've got while the sheriff is saying that his budget is in such a space that he can't keep on deputies," Portune said.

"A couple of SUV's equal one deputy, basically," he added.

Neil last week said he was laying off 10 deputies and looking to slim the department from 930 to 800 because of his shrinking budget. He called on Governor Mike DeWine to restore state funding to counties, citing the loss of that revenue as the reason for the cuts.

Several hours later, county commissioners expressed their dismay over not being invited to the news conference, and pointed out the budget cuts and resulting layoffs were to be expected.

Commissioners routinely sign off on car purchases for various departments. In this case, the department wants to purchase a used patrol vehicle from Arlington Heights for $15,000. The request states the purchase will save the department half the cost of a new vehicle.

Sheriff's spokesman David Daughtery says the department has been updating its fleet following deferred maintenance in the early 2000s that left it in a sorry state.

The county is also delaying a vote to purchase a new, $35,000 police vehicle for Hamilton County Adult Probation, part of the court system.